By Steve Davis, M.A., M.S.
The practice of getting full nourishment from everything in your life.
Western culture has reached a level of material wealth
greater than at any time in history. We include in this material
wealth, wealth of information as well. Currently, at the pinnacle
of our ability to manipulate our environment and produce all the things
we need, and many that we don't, it's entirely possibly that many
of our ills are arising as a result of our inability to handle
this incredible glut of input, in all of its forms.
Prior to the recent age, when resources and information were
scarce and hard to come by, we would never think of turning
either of these away. The arrival of this incredible abundance
is relatively recent, in the past 50 years or so, with the
refinement of industry and the emergence of the information age
and the Internet. It has come upon us so quickly that many of us
haven't learned or prepared ourselves to handle this new level of
abundance. If indeed it is possible to adapt and prepare
ourselves for the onslaught at all.
We haven't asked ourselves the questions, "How much is enough?"
"What do I value over everything else?" We just cannot say "no"
to available "things" and information that meet our fancy. And,
in some ways, we crave each new thing with the hope that it will
somehow set us free. Consequently, we are literally dying from
over consumption in one form or another.
More than half the US population is now considered "obese," while
people are starving for renewal of "spirit" and "soul" in their
lives and work. People are busier, have less time, and often feel
overwhelmed, surrounded by "too much stuff" and stressed out under
the growing burden of "too much information."
How do we cope with the temptation to consume ourselves into
oblivion? Our proposal is simple. We suggest two things. First,
that you begin replacing the habit of "accumulating" with the
practice of "assimilating." And second, that you make sure what
you ingest in any form is of the highest quality possible. Let's
first quickly define these words:
Accumulate: To heap up in a mass; to pile up; to increase; to
collect or bring together; to amass; as, to accumulate a sum of
Assimilate: To appropriate and transform or incorporate into the
substance of the assimilating body; to absorb or appropriate, as
nourishment; as food is assimilated and converted into organic
Proper assimilation and digestion of food, experience, and
information will allow us to extract its full benefit and put it
to good use. Whereas overstuffing ourselves, in any of these
arenas will cause a buildup of unsightly fat, waste, stress,
toxicity, confusion, unease, often fueling an unconscious
compulsion for more. All of us know how much better we feel when
we push ourselves away from the table before we're full, and the
satisfied feeling we get when we give ourselves a little time for
our systems to "assimilate" what we've taken in.
Unconscious compulsions for "more input" seldom satisfy our true
needs. Nor will having piles of unread books and magazines
ringing our desks reduce the nagging sense that there is some
piece of information that will really change everything for us.
Satisfaction comes from fully digesting and extracting the fine
nutrients from what we already have, and making choices for new
input based on our true values and passions, not our casual likes
and vague interests.
Saying yes to only what most serves our needs and resonates with
our deepest sense of self, and our chosen mission will go a long
way to lessen the burden. So will focusing on what is important
to ours and not someone else's sense of self.
How to Facilitate Assimilation
Of Information. We often spend a great deal of time looking for
that special piece of information or that magical answer to our
current problem when more often than not, the answer we seek is
right in front of us.
But unless we slow down to see, hear, and process what's already
in our world, we may miss these gifts. In your groups, model this
by inviting your participants to assimilate fully the meaning and
consequences of every activity.
- Of Relationships. We rush around so often focused on "getting
stuff done" that we sometimes neglect our most precious resources
--our friends, associates, coworkers, and family. The benefits in
good will, emotional support, new connections and ideas, very
often offset the time spent cultivating and maintaining these
- Of Customers. Balance your expenditure of energy on seeking new
customers with efforts to deepen and enrich your relationships
with existing customers. It takes a whole lot less effort to
cultivate these existing relationships where some trust already
exists. Share your gratitude for them being in your life,
appreciate their trust in you, and seek to deeply understand and
respond to their needs. Become so familiar with their situation
that you can act as a trusted advisor and in turn help them
assimilate the tidal wave of information bearing down on them as
- Of Ideas. If you're anything like us, you're a life long
student of personal growth and have hundreds of books on your
bookshelves. Just imagine what might happen if instead of picking
up yet another new title to read, you were to study the
principles from just one chapter of a favorite you've already
read and actually apply them for the next 30 days? This, my
friends, is called assimilation.
Create a learning plan with specific goals for the next six
months. Include both informational and learning goals into this
plan. And, only include that which you know you can assimilate
with minimum effort so that you have time to really make the
information a part of your very being instead of just being a
walking index pointing people to this book or that website.
- Of Food. During at least one meal this week...you may even
want to experiment with the (big) one this Thursday, try eating
slower than usual. Chew your food just a little bit longer.
When you're talking or listening to someone, stop eating. Take
time to really assimilate your food and experience with family.
Try just doing one thing at a time. Enjoy the rainbow of flavors
and textures, each bite a miniature world of experience.
- Of Experience. We're all tempted to accelerate our pace of life
to match that of our increasingly frenetic culture. But this is
a personal choice. Most of the time, we can choose to slow down
and carefully select our inputs, experiences, and the speed at
which we subject ourselves to them.
There are ways to help make this choice easier. Commit to a
practice of "being fully present" for a few minutes each day.
Use whatever method appeals to you. Some choices are meditation,
yoga, quiet walks, prayer, tai chi, marshal arts, sitting alone
quietly, journaling, etc. Or just look out the window with all
of your senses. Focus on what is before you and allow it to
really enter your being.
These kinds of practices are more and more important as the
world accelerates around you. They give our inner selves time
catch up with, reconnect with, and properly assimilate with our
Now go forth and assimilate!